Monday, April 20, 2009

We've recently begun to suspect that the dog is a changeling. Suddenly, at the age of 6/7 or whatever age he is*, he has begun to:

1) come when he is called
2) be very keen to please
3) play with and bring back toys, balls and sticks thrown for him. Previously, he'd treat this kind of game as a splendid opportunity for a spot of being chased.

My conclusion is that the diet he's been on since October is beginning to take effect. He's rather prone to plumpness, and because of his advancing age we decided he had to lose some weight to spare his hips (notoriously weaker in larger breeds). He seems keener because he is hungrier, and has realised that food comes from us- ergo the desire to please.

My neighbour's opinion is that all dogs calm down at about the age of 7, including his own "shit" of a black labrador (his word not mine), who until recently behaved like the Hound of the Baskervilles when out on walks with neighbour's wife.

We still have to watch what Goofy eats, and keep him roped up when he's in the garden, or he'd be off to visit the neighbours picking up tasty morsels such as cat food, calf food, rubbish straight from the black bags. He's not the best of dogs yet, but definitely working towards it.

* We adopted the dog when he alleged to be 21 months old. He looked more like 3 years old. He began to display signs of age (eg greying muzzle) at around official age 4, which I wouldn't have expected until closer to 6. I suspect that he was micro-chipped at around the age of 2, and that the RSPCA dated his age from the micro-chip rather than his actual and unknown birthday.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A tale of two bunnies 

Stepping into the world of teenagers means, it seems, accessing a murky of world of intrigue, politics and diplomacy on a scale unparalleled in adult life outside actual politics. I feel entirely inadequate at times to deal with the plate spinning involved in keeping tabs on what my oldest daughter is doing (not that I think there is that much to worry about, but still...), so complex is her social and extracurricular life, with clubs, activities, meetings in town with her friends, etc... She is good about telling me exactly where and when she is doing things, so no nightmares there, but still... The following tale illustrates the intrigue that can spring up unexpectedly, bite one in the behind and retreat before one has had time to compute it all.

Hen has just turned fourteen, and many of her friends are also spring babies. This weekend, she is camping in a boy's garden with three of his (boy) friends and three (girl) friends.

Both girls are good friends of Hen's. One is C, a friend from primary school, the other is N, a girl she met at her new school two years ago. N is a lovely, guileless, outspoken girl, prone to teenage emotional outbursts and with an endearing lack of capacity for grudges. N was the best friend of the birthday boy, H, for over a year, and when she moved and was unable to take her rabbits with her into her new house, she gave them to H, who lives in the countryside. Bear with the bunnies, they become crucial later.

C is the daughter of a good friend of mine, L, and is a lovely, funny girl, quite emotionally mature in some respects, but who can be a little sharp; her mum is very alert to any incidences of unpleasantness at school, both from her and against her.

Anyway, Hen came home on Thursday afternoon and announced that N, who had been invited at H's mother's insistence, even though they are not besties any more since N became a little more possessive than any 13 year old boy could cope with, had now been disinvited at the last minute.

My usual stance in these types of conversations is interested detachment until I can see a clear way to contribute without interrupting the confessional flow. Hen usually only mentions such things when they are really bothering her and she cannot see how to solve them.

N has a history of being ostracised by classmates (see guilelessness mentioned above, which tends not to sit too well with over-sophisticated teenage girls), and had moved classes after the first year at secondary school away from the "cool" girls who were making her life a misery. C's mother insisted she also move away from the same class in the following year, as the "cool" girls were beginning to turn their attentions to C, and her work was deteriorating.

Later that evening, L rang me in a state to say that she was deeply unhappy about the ostracism of N, and perceived that N had been voted out by group decision. N's mother had been on the phone to her, very bemused at her daughter's disinvitation. L and I agreed that if N had been deliberately ostracised, we would not be allowing our daughters to go to the party. And then I remembered about the damned bunnies.

The bunnies went to H last April. Within a month, one had escaped from its run, and been devoured by the family dog. H, terrified of telling N the truth, told her that it had been eaten by a wild fox. The recriminations were terrible. N reminded him on a daily basis that he had allowed her bunny to be eaten by a fox, that he had not looked after them properly, etc...

Recently, with H's birthday party looming, she had been bouncing around talking excitedly to him about cuddling the remaining bunny when she came to his house. And lo was H's heart sore with every mention of this, as what H had failed to mention to her was that the second blasted bunny had escaped about a month after the first and disappeared (June last year therefore), and that he had been too scared to tell her since the recriminations over the first bunny's death.

So there was his birthday looming, with a three-line whip from his mama on inviting N, and he was sore afraid of the bunny fallout. So he did what any logical teenage boy would do, and decided to disinvite her and pretend that it was because nobody liked her rather than because he was too scared to tell her about her pets. Simple, non? Straightforward and immediate solution. He-man solution. Beat out fire, have beer.

So N on Thursday evening was desolate, thinking her entire social life was down the pan, when in reality only the bunnies were. N's mother was desolate, thinking that her daughter's social life was down the pan. L was desolate and irate, thinking that her daughter had contributed to what she viewed as extreme nastiness and herd behaviour of the worst variety. Hen knew that the only solution was for H to come clean to N or N's mother about the rabbits. She had known about the rabbits for ages and had been counselling H to tell N, but really didn't want to tell N herself.

The long and short of it is, that after talking to H on Thursday evening, the boy having finally realised that the more he tried to fix the situation, the worse it got, and that he needed help, H's mother eventually phoned N's mother to explain about the bunnies, in-between high-level telephone calls between L, N's mother and me while we decided what to do.

And in a phone call of a few minutes' duration, all was revealed, all was explained, and poor N's mother was left with the dirty job of explaining to her daughter about the rabbits. And the party was back on.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Earthen Witch recently asked me how I'd managed to keep this pregnancy quiet for the first four months, and my answer was simple: Fear.

Fear that this one would also go belly up and I'd have to deal with public emotional fall-out along with the private. For the same reason we kept the news even from closest family until after the first scan.

Pregnancy at 41 is hardly a given in itself and after the long journey here, I truly wasn't expecting anything other than disaster or at least a very rough ride, to be honest.

Now that we've had the second scan (for detecting anomalies) and everything with this infant seems tip-top hooray, and that I feel in better health than I have for years (maybe due to the fact I have finally, after years of low thyroid issues, been put on thyroxine), I can fairly safely (yet still cautiously) say that everything seems to be progressing normally and that I intend to say very little more about this pregnancy until its outcome.

There are plenty of other things I can blog about, and not all of them will induce the Myerson effect, which has been my problem of late with blogging- when it got to the stage at which every time the children said anything even remotely funny, I reached for the laptop, and they said, "are you going to put that in your blog? and stopped talking to me, I decided that maybe Real LifeTM had a lot to commend it.

Also, now that I am on thyroxine (albeit a very low dose), I seem to have buckets of energy that make me somewhat disinclined to spend hours in front of the computer and instead prompts me to go outside and Do Something. I haven't a hope in hell of keeping up with other people's blogs regularly, and it feels more than a little disloyal to be writing this knowing that I really don't have time to read more than a few of other people's every few days.

But here goes anyway. Back in the water, as it were.

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